We all face peer pressure in all stages of our lives. While it is mostly associated with teenagers, peer pressure is an attempt to socially ‘fit in.’ we all want to be ‘cool’ and want everyone, especially people we like to ‘like’ us. We want them to think that we are just like them, like the same things they do and behave in a similar way.
While it is perfectly normal to want to ‘belong’ to a social group, one must keep checking if the things you want to do are really the things you want to do. Peer pressure can feel overwhelming and inescapable at times. It takes great strength to fight against negative peer pressure, but you can always get help from your parents, guardians, or teachers.
There are four types of peer pressure –
Spoken peer pressure
Spoken peer pressure occurs when some of the people in the group openly encourage others in the group to follow their actions. This can mean both good and bad things. They might influence others to study or participate in extracurricular activities. On the other hand, they can also guide their friends in the opposite way, on the path of negativity. It is hard for people to deal with spoken peer pressure as it happens face to face and the fear of loss of face is extremely real in those situations. The more influential the member of the group is, the harder it gets for people to disagree with them or disregard what they are saying.
Unspoken peer pressure
Unspoken peer pressure is where one assumes that the only way to survive is by replicating words, actions, and opinions of more influential peers around them. It becomes a matter of what is ‘socially acceptable’ in the group I’m associated with. If it means studying hard or practicing for a team sport, everyone will be motivated to work hard and nobody would need to ‘pressurize’ anyone into achieving it. If you are associated with a group of bullies, you might feel the pressure of bullying others just to feel like you’re ‘one of the group whether you want to or not.
Negative peer pressure
Negative peer pressure is when you feel obligated to follow certain traits or habits that might seem unhealthy to you just because your friends are doing it. Negative peer pressure affects your body and mind immensely. One might feel the pressure of participating in an activity against their will because the rest of their group is doing it. Not conforming can mean social exclusion, loss of valued interpersonal relationships, and being subjected to ridicule. A lot of people give in to negative peer pressure because it is easier to do so than challenging the corrupt thought processes and beliefs in their friend circle. As Professor Dumbledore says in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, “It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends.”
Positive peer pressure
Although we use the term ‘peer pressure’ by large with a negative connotation, peer pressure is not always bad. It always depends on the company you keep. If your friend circle is filled with positive, optimistic peers focused on what they want to achieve in life and encourage you to do the same, you are in good company. Positive peer pressure actively tries to destroy negative peer pressure and challenges the notions of unhealthy social conformity. While it is okay to feel curious about a lot of things in life, one needs people surrounding them to challenge their actions. If a group is determined to achieve well in the year-end exams, they will involve you in the process and support you to excel in your studies.
It can be tricky to know how to handle peer pressure. Instead of making snap decisions think through the scenario as well as the positive and negative impact each outcome can have on your life.The bottom line: Being aware of, and carefully choosing the influence of peers that will lead to healthy and happy experiences is a lifelong process.